Combining Passions for Teaching and Travel Through TESL

Dennis Crawford image
Dennis Crawford, Certificate Program in Teaching English as a Second Language

Graduate Update, 2016:

It has been four years since Dennis Crawford completed the Certificate Program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESL). Although he claims to be fully retired, Crawford’s career as a professional coach for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners continues to grow. His main Bay Area clients comprise expatriates who are accomplished in their former countries, but whose lack of English language skills form a barrier to success in the U.S. But it is not just locally that Crawford is flexing his TESOL skills: His coaching business allows him plenty of time to travel around the world and explore new avenues for teaching English—as well as spend extended time with his grandchildren.

What have you been up to since completing the TESOL certificate?
Since 2012, I have coached four long-term ESL clients on an individual basis over the years; participated in a week-long, overseas language program that focused on building one-on-one and one-on-two English conversation skills with 13 non-English speakers; and had several opportunities to volunteer in my local ESL adult education program. I find ESL coaching to be a fantastic opportunity to build relationships, to keep my teaching skills toned and to give back to the community in which I live.


Do you continue to use the skills you acquired in the certificate program?
Yes! The certificate’s courses have given me the bedrock, confidence and resources needed to provide my clients with high-quality, custom-designed sessions. As I reflect on the array and range of courses, I still find that they are all important during my preparation and instruction time. And all of the courses have been vital to my success as a professional ESL coach.


All of my private-coaching clients need language-confidence building, grammar instruction and practice, pronunciation work and instruction in cultural distinctions. I love the cross-cultural exchange. I have encountered a wide range of English proficiency in my clients—from mid-beginning to low-advanced levels. And because of what I learned in the certificate program, I can say that each client has successfully met their personal language goal. That is part of the joy of a TESOL career.



Some people are blessed with two fulfilling careers in their lifetime, and others are bold enough to go for a third. Dennis Crawford is one of the latter, pursuing his passion for education with the Certificate Program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Crawford, who holds a bachelor's degree in education from Whitworth University and a master's in divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, adds the TESOL certificate to an already-rich résumé that includes careers as a Presbyterian minister and as a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty.

With his TESOL certificate from Extension, Crawford is prepared to teach English abroad. The benefits of studying at Extension, he notes, are the hands-on experience working with non-native English speakers and the above-and-beyond guidance from instructors—particularly Grammar Fundamentals for ESL Teachers instructor Patti Weissman. "She could have just gone home after class, but twice she said, ‘I'll stay for another hour and demonstrate techniques of teaching grammar,'" he recalls. "That was a gold mine."


In his new role as an ESL instructor, Crawford is now substitute teaching and coaching a Russian client. In the next few years, Crawford says that he and his partner aim to travel to Europe or Asia to teach English: "To think that I can do my passions, teaching and travel, and make money—okay! And love it? Good!"